B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction announces shortlist for $40K prize

Books by Ken Dryden, Carol Off, Doug Saunders and Tanya Talaga are up for the 2018 award.
The B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction shortlist for 2018 includes (from left) Ken Dryden, Carol Off, Tanya Talaga and Doug Saunders. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press/CBC/Steve Russell/Jonathan Worth)

Four books have been shortlisted for the B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, an annual $40,000 prize celebrating the best nonfiction literature in Canada.

NHL Hall of Famer Ken Dryden is nominated for his book Game Change: the Life and Death of Steve Montador and the Future of Hockey. In the book, Dryden investigates the consequences of concussions in hockey through the tragic death of Boston Bruins defenceman Steve Montador.

"Dryden eloquently challenges the thinking that has so far tolerated brain injury in professional hockey; his well-argued solutions underpin a critically important message for the future of our national game," said the jury in a press release.

CBC Radio host Carol Off is a finalist for All We Leave Behind: A Reporter's Journey into the Lives of OthersThe book tells the story of Asad Aryubwal, an Afghan man forced to flee with his family after speaking to Off for a documentary about warlords.

"All We Leave Behind is a timely memoir that offers both context to and a close-up of uncomfortable truths: the failures of the West's involvement in Afghanistan, the hurdles confronting refugees who seek safety in Canada, and the dilemma of a combat journalist expected to maintain professional distance from her sources," said the jury in a press release.

Toronto Star journalist Tanya Talaga is on the shortlist for Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern CityThe book shines a spotlight on the injustices and hardships faced by Indigenous communities in northern Ontario and tells the story of seven Indigenous high school students who lost their lives between 2000 and 2011.

"Seven Fallen Feathers is achingly blunt in confronting recurring damage that must be repaired. The book puts a human face to the headline statistics, reveals the continuing harm of unequal educational opportunity, and delivers the evidence of systemic racism in Canada with an insistent voice," said the jury in a press release. 

Doug Saunders rounds out the shortlist with the book Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough. In the book, Saunders explains how Canada's historically slow population growth is a hindrance to future success.

"In a year when debates about the movement of peoples remain contentious throughout the world, Doug Saunders makes objective and powerful arguments for the need to increase Canada's population," said the jury in a press release.

The winner will be announced on Feb. 1, 2018 at a ceremony in Vancouver.

"Writers are the essential lifeblood of our culture, and while they may labour in isolation, their words help us understand who we are, and our place in the world. This year's shortlist of four exceptional books of nonfiction, selected from 156 submissions, exemplifies everything our Award stands for," said Scott McIntyre, chair of the British Columbia Achievement Foundation, which administers the prize.

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